Camelot Education’s Buerhle Academy Students Learn Valuable Lessons with STEM Projects

 In Camelot Blog

Learning the value of teamwork while building an interest in the jobs of tomorrow is an invaluable educational experience that many students at Camelot Education’s Buerhle Academy gained just before the School District of Lancaster, PA, closed school buildings due to COVID-19.

The opportunity was presented in late January after Joel Bacharach, Principal of Buehrle Academy, discussed with the students the idea of creating STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) projects. It was a challenge immediately accepted, and the students, who ranged in grades 9th through 11th. They spent that same day conducting research and developing ideas and materials that would be needed to complete their projects. They formed two teams to work on separate projects.

“The students worked quickly to develop their plans and scientific hypotheses. They established benchmarks that they had to meet on a daily and weekly basis,” said Bacharach.

The two projects varied in objectives and tasks, and students in both teams worked in collaboration to achieve their ultimate goals.

One team outlined a plan to build a mock solar panel vehicle using a large model car as a way to study various waves of energy and power. After testing multiple wavelengths of the light spectrum to determine which color provided the most light to power the model car, the team learned that only white light was able to generate enough energy to move the vehicle.

The other team built a cardboard maze to test the sense of smell of cockroaches to understand why the pests enter certain environments. They discovered the speed with which the insects were able to find the bait determined their highly developed sense of smell.

Both teams completed their projects by late February and had a chance to review and assess their final results. More importantly, the students learned the value of teamwork, cooperation, and the prospects of future careers in science and technology.

Evan Coffield, age 15, said he participated because he enjoys a challenge and wanted to be of assistance in any way possible.

“I learned to work with a bunch of kids with a lot of different talents,” Coffield said. “I also learned to expand my horizons when it came to understanding another person’s point of view. Working on a project like this, for people like me, outspoken but shy as well, it helps them gain confidence and speak up and to get to know the people you’re working with.”

Not only did this challenge impart meaningful lessons the students could employ immediately, but it was an opportunity for them to start building interest in careers in the STEM fields that are fueling the jobs of tomorrow.

“It is great to see our students work together as a team processing rigorous material and using the scientific method to create a hypothesis and then testing it out,” said Matt Wiltrout, Executive Director for Buehrle Academy. “Not only are they left with more scientific knowledge, but also the value of working to overcome roadblocks and challenges together.”

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